The Chicago Cubs are one win away from advancing to their third consecutive NLCS. However, nothing worth earning comes easy as they still have to defeat the very dangerous Washington Nationals who, despite being down two games to one, posted a 97-65 record. The two teams have faced each other seven times during the regular season, with the Nationals holding the better head-to-head record of 4-3. It’s safe to say these two teams are as even as it gets, as the Cubs try to end it before the series can go back to the nation’s capital.
Pitching Matchups: Tanner Roark (RHP) vs Jake Arrieta (RHP)
Both teams present two of the most powerful starting rotations in all of baseball, but the Nationals will send Tanner Roark to save their season while the Cubs counter with 2015 National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Roark won his lone start in 2017 against the Cubs, going 6.1 innings while only allowing two runs on five hits and striking out four batters. Arrieta has had a decent 2017, posting a 14-10 record and a 3.53 ERA. He only made one start against the Nationals this year and got roughed up for five earned runs in 4 innings pitched. Considering the recent trend of starting pitchers struggling this postseason, it could be a battle of the bullpens.
|Nationals||Batting Average||Home Runs||RBI|
|Trea Turner, SS||.284||11||45|
|Bryce Harper, RF||.319||29||87|
|Anthony Rendon, 3B||.301||25||100|
|Daniel Murphy, 2B||.322||23||93|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 1B||.303||36||108|
|Jayson Werth, LF||.226||10||29|
|Matt Wieters, C||.225||10||52|
|Michael Taylor, CF||.271||19||53|
|Tanner Roark, P||.091||0||0|
|Chicago Cubs||Batting Average||Home Runs||RBI|
|Jon Jay, CF||.296||2||34|
|Kris Bryant, 3B||.295||29||73|
|Anthony Rizzo, 1B||.273||32||109|
|Willson Contreras, C||.276||21||74|
|Ben Zobrist, RF||.232||12||50|
|Kyle Schwarber, LF||.211||30||59|
|Addison Russell, SS||.239||12||43|
|Javier Baez, 2B||.273||23||75|
|Jake Arrieta, P||.131||1||5|
Who’s hot, and who’s not
The starting pitchers have been fantastic for both teams. In fact, this is the only series where every starter has logged 5+ innings of work, each of them allowing three runs or less. Anthony Rizzo has started off his postseason with a bang, posting a .333 average with five RBIs and a home run through the first three games whereas the Nationals’ offensive attack has been nearly dismal, save for some big hits from Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman.
Perhaps the most surprising slump as of late is the one from former postseason MVP Daniel Murphy, who has a .318 career postseason batting average yet has only one lone hit through 11 at-bats this series. However, when Murphy gets hot, he’s a force to be reckoned with, as he possesses the ability to carry the Nationals all the way to the Fall Classic.
Prediction: Cubs 1 – Nationals 0
This will be a battle of the starters once again. I believe both starting pitchers will log at least six innings each, with Arrieta eventually getting a lead to work with. Roark has shown that he can shut down the reigning champs, but I think he’ll make a mistake that will prove enough for the Cubs to earn a trip to Los Angeles for a 2016 NLCS rematch against Clayton Kershaw’s Dodgers.
Where to watch
Tonight’s game will begin at 5:38 PM EST and will be broadcast on TBS.
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